John Jackson Miller tells a classic Western set in the sands of Tatooine, casting Obi-Wan Kenobi as the strangeI would give this 4.5 stars if I could.
John Jackson Miller tells a classic Western set in the sands of Tatooine, casting Obi-Wan Kenobi as the stranger who rides into what passes as a town. It is his early days of exile, and he's trying to negotiate his new role as watcher and protector (from a distance) of infant Luke Skywalker. He's not yet "Crazy Old Ben," but the story moves him several steps closer to accepting that destiny.
But while Kenobi is the focus of the novel, he is not front and center in its narrative. Instead, the people of Tatooine - humans, non-humans, even Sand People - and their conflicts with the environment and each other take center stage. Kenobi's appearance and reluctant intervention serves as the catalyst for change, conflict, and ultimately redemption in one local population. It also proves to Obi-Wan that he must withdraw and never again get caught up in the lives of such desperate and courageous people, because his first responsibility is to the future and to Luke.
Miller draws captivating characters and a very compelling, lived-in 'verse. Mos Eisley may be a wretched hive of scum and villainy, for example, but some honest, hard-working, nice folk do visit on occasion, dreaming of something more than the difficult life they scrape from the sand. Kenobi himself is grieving, lonely, and driven to do what he must, and Miller makes the reader ache with him and admire him.
Kenobi proves there are many worthy stories yet to be told in the heart and around the margins of the Star Wars saga.
I had read every novel and short story in Craig Johnson's Longmire series and watched every aired episode of the television adaptation, and I was piniI had read every novel and short story in Craig Johnson's Longmire series and watched every aired episode of the television adaptation, and I was pining for more. Dry Bones scratched that itch in a most satisfying way. It also reminded me not to underestimate Craig Johnson as a storyteller; after all this time, he still has tricks up his sleeve. One plot point in this novel quite literally took my breath away.
Dry Bones features the full Longmire ensemble, both a new mystery and what quite likely is a new move in an old dance of revenge, and a focus on the complicated politics involved when members of the Absaroka County Sheriff's Department, the FBI, and the Cheyenne Nation all find themselves entangled in an investigation. But the mystery is in many ways the background here, while the characters and their relationships and understandings of the world take center stage. The fact that I saw the final revelations coming did not detract from my enjoyment of the story in the least. Johnson's unique voice, humane perspective, and sense of place are a continual joy to read.
I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point for those new to the Longmire series, but for those who know and love these stories, it is a moving read. ...more
This collection offers twelve glimpses into the world of the Walt Longmire series, most of which are set in and around the November-December holiday sThis collection offers twelve glimpses into the world of the Walt Longmire series, most of which are set in and around the November-December holiday season. Some are mysteries, and some are simply character studies, but all provide that humane touch of pathos and deep sense of setting that Craig Johnson is known for with his Longmire novels.
While some affected me more deeply than others, there's not a weak story in the bunch. I especially loved "Thankstaking," a moving meditation on Walt, Henry Standing Bear, history, and mercy, and "Messenger," which brings Walt, Vic, and Henry together with a Porta Potty, bears, and a horned owl who may or may not be the spirit of Walt's as-yet-unborn granddaughter, Lola. As always, Johnson can go from laugh-out-loud funny to tear-inducingly poignant in a split second.
These tales fit seamlessly into the chronology of the Walt Longmire novels, and they are well worth reading for every Longmire fan. ...more
A Serpent's Tooth rates somewhere between a 4 and 5 for me. I should also mention that now I've read Walt Longmire referencing Frank Herbert's Dune, IA Serpent's Tooth rates somewhere between a 4 and 5 for me. I should also mention that now I've read Walt Longmire referencing Frank Herbert's Dune, I can die a happy woman.
The more I think about A Serpent's Tooth, the more I appreciate it as a novel and as a further development of the Longmire series. It brings the Absaroka County "players" into the spotlight (including secondary characters such as Double Tough and Frymire), it delivers more peril and loss than any other installment in the series thus far, and it deftly handles -- and brings to powerful and wholly unexpected fruition -- the prophecy that has been casting a dark shadow over Longmire's life for the last two novels. Longmire lets his control and judgment slip more than once here, and while his behavior isn't always likeable, it's always understandable. He's all the more compelling for his missteps and all the more human for his anger.
The new characters are a fascinating lot, as well: an old woman who is convinced angels are doing her home repair work; a slippery Mormon "lost boy" and his "bodyguard," who claims to be 200 year-old Orrin Porter Rockwell, legendary enforcer of the early Mormon Church; an elderly man who builds spaceships in his backyard in anticipation of heavenly ascension; an amiable middle-aged woman in the county whose quiet retirement belies the fact she is ex-CIA; etc. The list is a long one.
"Do you think there are more crazy people in our county than anywhere else?" Vic asks. It certainly seems that way. My main objection to this novel is that Henry Standing Bear seems reduced to a tag-along figure, and while he's greatly needed, he seems to have abandoned his own pursuits and business simply to follow, enable, and rescue Walt. Then again, his presence is so welcome, I really shouldn't complain -- and, as the novel makes clear (as the high school retires both Longmire's and the Bear's football numbers), both men really have been playing the same game on the same team for most of their lives.
Unlike most of the novels in the series, A Serpent's Tooth ends on an emotional cliffhanger. I'm already reaching for the next book. I recommend it to all Longmire fans....more
This eighth novel in Craig Johnson's Longmire series hinges on the themes of family and transition. As Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear are scoutThis eighth novel in Craig Johnson's Longmire series hinges on the themes of family and transition. As Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear are scouting out a possible alternative scenic spot for the upcoming wedding of Walt's daughter (and Henry's goddaughter) Cady, they witness a Cheyenne woman plunge to her death over a cliff -- and discover that the young infant she had held in her arms survived the terrible fall.
Thus begins a story of guilt, responsibility, and familial ties. Cady comes to terms with how her father's commitment to his cases has at times made him an absent father. Walt, just as he feels he is losing his daughter to her new marriage, family, and life, becomes a mentor to the new tribal police chief, Iraq veteran Lolo Long. Long herself is an absent mother to a young son who spends sleepless nights revisiting the horrors of the battlefield that left her scarred inside and out. Together Walt and Chief Long go up against the FBI and long-held community secrets to solve the mystery of what happened to Audrey Plain Feather and her son Adrian on the cliff.
After the headlong rush that was Hell Is Empty, As the Crow Flies takes its time, and this meandering fits the subject matter as well as the tone. There's a great deal to make fans of the series smile despite the bittersweetness of the tale, including a great number of familiar faces and places, and more lovely shout-outs to the literature that informs the series. One of my favorite revelations is that, in true Sherlock Holmes fashion, Henry Standing Bear recruits the "Birney Road Irregulars," a group of children headed by "Wiggins" Red Thunder (and including Leslie S. Little Hawk and Charlie Shoulderblade, among others) who observe and report helpful information.
This is not a starting point for the series, or even a major step forward in the series' arc, but if you're already a fan, this is an understated, introspective, and nostalgic treat. ...more
Craig Johnson manages to do something different with every new addition to his Walt Longmire series, and in the case of Hell is Empty, he's created onCraig Johnson manages to do something different with every new addition to his Walt Longmire series, and in the case of Hell is Empty, he's created one of his most memorable and meaningful novels yet. The majority of the novel follows Walt's one-man hunt for the convicted and escaped murderer Raynaud Shade in the icy hell of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area at 13,000-foot elevation during a winter blizzard. This cat-and-mouse pursuit unfolds as an extended reimagining and commentary on Dante's Inferno, complete with its own Virgil -- that is, the return of Virgil White Buffalo from Another Man's Moccasins, who happens to be the grandfather of one of Shade's victims, and who may or may not be dead at the time he helps Walt on his quest.
Suffering from a concussion, hypothermia, exhaustion, and the effects of high elevation, Longmire is hardly a reliable narrator, and Johnson satisfyingly offers both mystical and medical explanations for (most of) what happens in the mountains during Longmire's long night of the soul. This seventh Longmire novel transcends traditional man vs. man and man vs. wilderness conflicts to achieve an introspective, philosophical, spiritual tale worthy of Dante (seasoned with plenty of Homer for extra flavor). I completed this with breathless relish. ...more
Junkyard Dogs begins with a memorable first sentence: "I tried to get a straight answer from his grandson and granddaughter-iAh, this is more like it!
Junkyard Dogs begins with a memorable first sentence: "I tried to get a straight answer from his grandson and granddaughter-in-law as to why their grandfather had been tied with a hundred feet of nylon rope to the rear bumper of the 1968 Oldsmobile Tornado."
That captures the mood of the novel well.
This installment in the Longmire series returns a battered Sheriff Walt Longmire to a frozen Absaroka County winter, where he must deal with a series of apparently minor events with "local color" -- but said events evolve into murder, kidnapping, and more murder, set against the backdrop of a turf war between the owner of a multi-million-dollar development of ranchettes and the owner of an adjacent junk-yard. The mysteries feature a cast of quirky new characters who are alternately laugh-out-loud funny, fascinating, and poignant. Other authors might leave them as caricatures, but Johnson looks below the surface to the complex and conflicting agendas that animate those in the crumbling old mansion (and one-time bawdy house) and the slick new subdivision.
The novel also advances the character arcs of familiar faces, including the now-recovering Santiago Saizarbitoria's post-traumatic stress, Vic Moretti's desire for a permanent, meaningful home, and Henry Standing Bear's efforts to plan for the wedding of Cady Longmire. Longmire himself continues to be well-rounded and deeply believable. Each member of Longmire's team has something to add to the resolution of this case, as well. Most importantly, Johnson captures a remarkable sense of place, and his portrait of life in Wyoming brings me back again and again. ...more
This is a solid continuation of the Longmire series. When a confessed murderer is sent to Walt Longmire's jail to await trial, he becomes convinced shThis is a solid continuation of the Longmire series. When a confessed murderer is sent to Walt Longmire's jail to await trial, he becomes convinced she is innocent. His personal investigation sends him to Absalom (population 40), where he finds more than he bargained for, including a dose of his own past. I missed Absaroka County and especially its people (Henry Standing Bear, Vic Moretti, etc.), who are sidelined to a large degree, but I appreciate the classic Western motifs in play in this work. Walt is definitely the lone stranger who's come to bring justice to the wayward town here, and he plays the part well.
Personal note: I have been consistently impressed with the Longmire series. This novel provides my very first opportunity to nitpick. It's a small issue but, being me, it was enough to knock me out of the book for a time. In remembering his childhood on the Powder River, Walt -- the well-read English major -- recalls how he'd read Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Lost World as a boy and then imagined dinosaurs roaming the area. Ack! Would he really confuse Burroughs with Arthur Conan Doyle, whose works he refers to frequently, whose Great Detective informs how he conducts his own work? Everyone makes slips, but I find it disheartening that this error survived rereadings, editing, and proofing. I may be the only reader who would react this way, but there you go....more
"If no one remembered them, were they ever really here?"
This is another solid and satisfying entry in the oh-so-addictive Longmire series. Another Man"If no one remembered them, were they ever really here?"
This is another solid and satisfying entry in the oh-so-addictive Longmire series. Another Man's Moccasins follows two at first seemingly unrelated cases in two different eras: one in Walt Longmire's present in Absaroka County, and the other forty years in his past during his tour of duty in Vietnam. (The flashback sequences flesh out the narrative first told only in passing in the first novel, The Cold Dish.) Corruption, prejudice, and human trafficking offer the backdrop to Longmire's difficult walk down memory lane.
As always, Johnson's skilled handling of setting, character, and dialogue, as well as his eye for the unjust, made this a page-turner. ...more
This was a particularly well-crafted Longmire tale, in which all of the elements of the case (and storytelling) came full circle in a particularly satThis was a particularly well-crafted Longmire tale, in which all of the elements of the case (and storytelling) came full circle in a particularly satisfying way. Walt's mentor and former boss Lucian Connelly asks Walt to go to neighboring Campbell County and look into the supposed suicide of a friend of his, Detective Gerald Holman. Why would a man with a reportedly happy family life, a man who always followed the rules, stop during mid-investigation of cold cases, check into a motel room, and shoot himself in the head (twice)?
What Lucian tells Holman's bewildered widow at the beginning sets the tone for the rest of the novel.
“’I want to warn you that if you put Walter on this you're going to find out what it’s all about, one way or another.” Another pause and I could imagine the face that was peering down at her, a visage to which I was accustomed. “You're sure you want that? Because he's like a gun; once you point him and pull the trigger, it’s too late to change your mind.’”
Everything seems to be against Walt: Holman's cold cases (a series of missing local women) seem to be quite cold indeed; winter storms are moving in; someone has put out a contract on Walt's life; and Walt's daughter Cady is waiting for him in Philadelphia to induce labor to deliver her firstborn, Walt's grandchild. Over and over again the reader feels frustration at Walt's determination to settle things about Holman, his suicide, and his cold cases before he boards a flight to Philadelphia. Over and over again the reader, like so many of the characters in the novel, disagrees with Walt's implicit belief that only he can set things right. And in the end, of course, Walt proves everyone wrong. His stubborn choice to stay until he finishes things makes all the difference in the world, even if not all endings are happy ones.
During a desperate interlude, Johnson offers another of his signature vision sequences that always have more than one explanation (mystical and scientific).
Despite the absence of Henry Standing Bear for a good portion of the story, the characterizations and pacing here are quite satisfying, especially because the emotional cliffhanger from A Serpent's Tooth receives some quality attention. I was very pleased to see Walt in areas of South Dakota that I know and easily recognized from Johnson's wonderful descriptions.
Much is resolved in Any Other Name, but new threats are introduced, as well, that promise more on the "long arc" front. I'm ready for the next novel now! ...more
I leaned forward with my elbows on my knees and her book in my hands. Like a lot of things in my life, I’d just about worn it out, but it was worn outI leaned forward with my elbows on my knees and her book in my hands. Like a lot of things in my life, I’d just about worn it out, but it was worn out with love, and that’s the best kind of worn-out there is. Maybe we’re like all those used cars, broken hand tools, articles of clothing, scratched record albums, and dog-eared books. Maybe there really isn’t any such thing as mortality; that life simply wears us out with love. - Kindness Goes Unpunished
This is another very satisfying book in the Walt Longmire series. Kindness Goes Unpunished moves the action from Absaroka County, Wyoming to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to focus on Walt Longmire's relationship with his daughter Cady, the mystery of the attack on her, and the fascinating family dynamic of the law-enforcing Moretti clan. Craig Johnson's keen sense of setting proves up to the task of this relocation, and the growth of the characters' relationships is well drawn. This series is dangerously addictive!...more
I enjoyed this second installment in the Walt Longmire series even more than the first, as it brought up questions of personal and regional history anI enjoyed this second installment in the Walt Longmire series even more than the first, as it brought up questions of personal and regional history and forced Walt to question what he really knew about the people closest to him and what kind of lawman he is (with former Sheriff Lucian Connally serving as a telling comparison/contrast). Characters such as Walt's friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria continued to unfold in compelling ways, and the emphasis on the Basque community was fascinating. No sophomore slump for Craig Johnson! ...more
I have a pattern when it comes to adaptations: I go the source material first and read it, and then I watch the adaptation to see how it measures up.I have a pattern when it comes to adaptations: I go the source material first and read it, and then I watch the adaptation to see how it measures up. Not this time. I fell hard for the A&E television series Longmire thanks to its gorgeous use of setting, consistently excellent acting, and most of all its informed and sensitive portrayal of the interaction and politics between Anglo and Northern Cheyenne communities in Wyoming. In fact, I hesitated about reading the novels that had inspired the show, in fear that this might somehow compromise my enjoyment of the series. I needn't have worried. Reading this first of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire novels has only enhanced my appreciation of the Longmire show and convinced me that I need to read all of the other books in the series.
Johnson fits a compelling mystery into a darkly witty work dedicated to careful characterization, a stunning sense of place, and a thoughtful meditation on the human condition. Johnson deserves tremendous credit for how well he portrays characters of and issues relating to different generations, sexes, and races/ethnicities. Readers who value contemporary Westerns, detective and mystery fiction, noir fiction, and well-written, literate, humane fiction in general should give Johnson a try. ...more
This novella in the Longmire series finds its thematic center in a quote from Walt Longmire's annual Christmastime rereading of Dickens's A ChristmasThis novella in the Longmire series finds its thematic center in a quote from Walt Longmire's annual Christmastime rereading of Dickens's A Christmas Carol: "...no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused...." Like Dickens, Johnson offers a morality tale that is deceptively simple and deeply humane.
This is not a mystery in any sense, but rather an action-packed visitation of Christmas Eve in 1988, when older members of Craig Johnson's cast of characters (including Lucian Connelly and Doctor Bloomfield, as well as newly-elected Sheriff Longmire himself) joined forces during a severe winter storm to try to save the life of badly burned little girl, the sole survivor of a terrible car accident. Even with the facts that 1) I'm not one for Christmas stories on the whole and 2) the reader knows exactly where the story is headed at all times, this was something of a white-knuckle read thanks to the breakneck pacing and compelling descriptions.
Readers familiar with the Longmire series will find some touching dramatic ironies here, as well, which I won't spoil by describing.
Craig Johnson continues to write tales that are steeped in a keen awareness of history, literature, and ethical thought, and as long as he writes them, I'll be reading them. ...more
I received this novel as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.
Mary Doria Russell still has "it," that indefinable storyteller quality that made TI received this novel as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.
Mary Doria Russell still has "it," that indefinable storyteller quality that made The Sparrow one of my favorite novels of all time.
In this work of historical fiction, Russell paints a portrait of Doc Holliday's years in Dodge City, Kansas. It's a very compelling and moving story, and in the telling the reader gets to know famous figures such as Wyatt and Morgan Earp, and not-so-famous figures from different races, nationalities, and walks of life. Russell does an exceptional job of revealing the many disparate threads that came together to form the tapestry of the West, from whores and cattlemen to missionaries and runaways. She's at her best allowing the characters to represent different perspectives and underscore various prejudices. When conflicting interests collide in Dodge, the politics are fascinating, and Russell through Holliday gives us a front row seat.
The part of this history I know best -- that is, Native America -- is well handled here, and I applaud the effortless way Russell worked in the important story of John Horse and the Black Seminoles.
Holliday's story is incredibly poignant, as is that of his companion Kate, a Hungarian-born noblewoman-turned-frontier prostitute. I especially appreciated the trouble Russell took to introduce the characters in the front matter (both historical and fictional) and explain in the back matter where she took the greatest poetic license (and why). Russell de-emphasizes the shooting at the OK Corral with good reason, but provides enough information to give closure to Doc's story.
Furthermore, Russell uses Holliday as a window into big ideas (about education, about power, about nobility), and therefore the novel really transcends its genre. In other words, it has something to say even to those who aren't particularly smitten with the history of the West.
Anyone looking for excellent, well researched, thought-provoking fiction that provides both insights about the historical time period and a rewarding journey with a meaningful character will enjoy this a great deal....more